University of Maryland Extension

Braconids - Ichneumonoid wasps

Braconid Wasps

wasp parasitizing an aphid
Braconid wasp attacking an aphid (left), 
Photo: Alex Wild, University of Georgia

parasitized hornworm
Hornworm larva covered with parasite cocoons

  • Braconids are mostly internal parasitoids, but many emerge to pupate in silken cocoons attached to the outside of their hosts, or separate but close-by.
  • Perhaps the most widely recognized stage of any parasitoid wasp is the cluster of whitish/yellowish rice-like pupal cocoons of Cotesia spp. wasps (Braconids) found on tomato hornworms and cabbageworms.

Ichneumonoid Wasps

beneficial wasp
Ichneumonid wasp

wasp looking to parasitize a wood boring beetle
Ichneumonoid wasp drilling through bark
to reach wood-boring beetle grub

  • Ichneumonoid wasps typically range from about 1/10” to 1 1/2” long, although one Ichneumon species (Megarhyssa) can be nearly 3” long including its very long tail-like ovipositor.
  • Ichneumons are slender, wasplike, with an abdomen longer than the head and thorax combined, and females frequently have an ovipositor (egg-laying organ) that is longer than their body.
  • Ichneumons vary greatly in size and color, from uniformly yellowish to black, or brightly colored with black/brown or black/yellow markings.
  • Braconids resemble ichneumons, but are usually smaller in size and darker in color, although some species have striking coloration.
  • Ichneumon wasps are the largest family of wasps, with thousands of species, and are common almost everywhere.
  • The dead hosts of many Ichneumon wasps shrink and become hard and brittle.
  • The normally greenish or white cocoons of larval hosts infested by some Ichneumon wasps may darken as the wasp develops within.


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